Preventive Dentistry A Quick Reference Guide

Preventive dentistry refers to the dental care and practices used to prevent the onset of any dental decay and disease. Let us take a peek at a few statistics to understand the importance of preventive dentistry.

Dental health statistics from United States Public health

Preventive Dentistry A Quick Reference Guide
Dentist

Children

  • Dental caries is the most common oral malady in children.
  • Two out of four 5- to 9-year-olds have at least one cavity or filling; by age 17. The number has gone up to 3 out of 4 children.
  • Children suffer many injuries to the head, face, and neck that impact their oral health and structure.
  • One out of 4 children has not seen a dentist before entering kindergarten.
  • Over 51 million academic hours are lost each year to dental-related illness alone(read more about children health).

Adults

  • Most adults show symptoms of periodontal or gingival infections. Severe periodontal disease [6 millimeters of periodontal attachment loss] affects approximately 14% of adults aged 45 to 54.
  • Adults lose over 164 million work hours annually because of dental conditions and dental visits.
  • About two-thirds of adults report having visited a dentist in the past year.

Older adults

  • Twenty-three percent of 65-74 year-olds have a severe periodontal disease (characterized by 6 millimeters or more of periodontal attachment loss). Irrespective of age, men are more likely than women to have more severe disease.
  • About 30% of adults 65 years and older are edentulous(without teeth), compared to 46% 20 years ago.
  • Oral, as well as pharyngeal cancers, are diagnosed in about 30,000 Americans each year. Nine thousand die from these diseases each year. Prognosis is poor.
  • At any given time, 5% of Americans aged 65 and older (currently some 1.65 million people) are living in long-term care facilities where dental care is problematic.

A study concludes that 51% of dentate patients have been negatively affected in some form by their oral health. In 8% of the situations, it has diminished their quality of life. Preventive programs if adopted early by the patient (or by the parents of young kids) then long-range freedom from the plaque diseases is possible. Healthy teeth aid eating and chewing and are a lifetime asset.

The presence of healthy teeth enhances speech considerably. A pleasant smile enhances personality expression.  At rare times, teeth have even provided a means of self-defense. On the other hand, the absence of teeth or presence of worn-down teeth may result in a loss of self-esteem, limits employment possibilities and can even curtail social interaction.

Three different levels of Preventive Dentistry

  1. Primary prevention: It uses procedures and agents to prevent the onset of disease, to reverse the advancement of the disease, or to halt the disease process before secondary preventive treatment becomes necessary.
  2. Secondary prevention: it involves the use of routine treatment methods to terminate a disease process and to restore tissues to as near healthy as possible.
  3. Tertiary prevention employs measures necessary to replace lost tissues and to rehabilitate patients to the state that physical skills and mental attitudes are as optimal  as possible after the failure of secondary prevention

Preventive methods

  • Mechanical: Brushing correctly with a quality toothbrush for the dentist recommended two minutes twice daily. Flossing, at least once daily with dental floss. Rinsing mouth, after each meal. Regular oral care significantly reduces the occurrence of oral decay and diseases.
  • Fluoride therapy: Use of fluorides to inhibit demineralization and to enhance remineralization of teeth. All Fluoride therapy should be in consultation with a skilled and experienced dental professional to avoid Fluoride toxicity.
  • Diet discipline: Like all microorganisms, Bacteria in the plaque need the very nutrients required by our body cells, they are available in our saliva and are enough for the Bacteria to survive and multiply.  Consistent salivary flow and balanced meals ensure that these bacteria are frequently flushed and do not increase beyond control. The moment you eat sugary food, bacterial reproduction spikes leading to an imbalance that makes teeth vulnerable to dental caries. Refrain from consuming foods high in sucrose. Avoid eating sweets between meals and at bedtime.
  • Pit and fissure sealants: They help prevent dental decay. They are transparent or tooth-colored materials that bond to the chewing surface of the teeth. These sealants act as a wall between the tooth surface and trapped food particles as well as bacterial buildup to prevent decay. Reputed Ypsilanti Dentist, Dr. Colleen Bullard says “ The procedure for placing dental sealants is simple, pain-free and combined with proper oral care it’s the most effective preventive measures against dental decay in children and adults.”
  • Regular Dental check-ups: Despite our best efforts none of us managed to remove plaque 100%. This plaque hardens and forms tartar. Tartar removal isn’t possible at home, only root cleaning and scaling by a dental professional can remove tartar. Regular visits the dentist guarantee that our oral cavity gets the much needed thorough cleaning.

The age-old saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is the golden rule for maintaining optimal health. Preventive dentistry saves you the damage, pain, and trauma caused due to tooth loss and oral diseases by caring for your teeth to prevent the onset of destruction and decay.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633299/
  2. http://comprehensivedentistry.net/pediatric-dental-sealants/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/preventative-dentistry#overview1

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